white house

Former Top White House Lawyer Skips Congressional Hearing on Russia Probe   6%

The former top lawyer for the White House has refused to appear before a congressional panel investigating President Donald Trump, deepening the legal standoff between Democratic lawmakers and the Trump administration.

The Partisan Divide on How to Read the Intelligence on Iran   -6%

Adam Schiff, the combative chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, didn’t contest the recent intelligence that the Trump administration said was behind its newly aggressive posture toward Iran. Nor did he accuse the White House of misrepresenting it. Instead he returned to a critique that Democrats have made of Trump’s hawkish Iran policy from the start: that it will lead America down the path of an ill-planned confrontation.

“It’s not that I think there isn’t intelligence to be concerned about. There is,” Schiff told us in an interview in the Capitol on Thursday afternoon. “But how much of this is a predictable response to actions that we’re taking without any clear idea of where it’s supposed to lead us? That’s the predominant concern that I have, that we may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of conflict with Iran—and without any endgame in mind.”

Recent actions by the Trump administration, Schiff said, seemed designed to provoke exactly the kind of Iranian response that senior U.S. officials have spent the past two weeks citing. Those actions by the United States include a move to block countries from purchasing Iranian oil—part of an escalating series of sanctions on Tehran since walking away from the 2015 nuclear deal last year—and, in April, declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.

[Read: The knowns and unknowns of what’s happening with Iran]

Led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, over the past two weeks, U.S. officials have cited intelligence that they say showed Iranian activity that is putting U.S. forces in the region and America’s regional allies and interests in danger.

“If, for example, you believe that by labeling the IRGC as a terrorist group, they will be less likely to restrain the Shia militias [in Iraq, where America has 5,000 troops]—and then when you take that action you find that the Shia militias are more likely to attack, is that a problem with the intelligence or is that a problem with the action?” Schiff said.

The rising tensions have led to inevitable comparisons to the run-up to the Iraq War, when U.S. officials misused intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons programs and ties to al-Qaeda to lead America into a devastating conflict. And so with escalating intensity throughout the week, amid news of U.S. officials gaming out military options, members of Congress have urged the administration to show them the intelligence.

We spoke with Schiff before he received a formal briefing from the administration on the intelligence in question on Thursday evening, along with the rest of the congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight. He reiterated his message in a statement on Friday, in which he said that Iran is a “thoroughly malign actor” and that the threat from Tehran, through the IRGC and its proxies, is “real,” but he also faulted the administration. “Given the degree to which the President has mischaracterized prior intelligence on other matters, or disputed the work product of the agencies when it contradicted his preferred narrative, his actions have generated understandable doubt on what we really know of Iranian plans and intentions,” the statement read. “All Members of Congress should be fully briefed by our intelligence agencies on their assessment of the threat posed by Iran.”

Senior officials, reportedly including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and CIA Director Gina Haspel, are expected to brief the House and Senate starting Tuesday.

[Read: Take it from an Iraq War supporter—war with Iran would be a disaster]

In the meantime, the administration’s defenders have dismissed criticism like Schiff’s. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, for example, who has also been briefed on the intelligence, said on the Senate floor that it shows a “serious and potentially imminent threat to U.S. forces.”

He continued: “We are not going to start a war. But if we are attacked by Iran’s proxies, we are going to respond against those proxies and hold Iran responsible. And they’re going to pay a price for that as well.”

Administration officials have also disputed the idea that they are the ones engaged in provocative behavior; they blame Iran for the escalating tensions of the past two weeks—and say their recent moves were aimed at deterring, not provoking, an Iranian attack.

“We are all frustrated with this notion that somehow, we are escalating, we are seeking armed conflict,” a senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing on Friday. “Nothing could be further from the truth. We are seeking de-escalation, resolving the situation through nonmilitary means.”

The official cited Trump’s repeated offers of negotiations with Iran, and took issue with reports suggesting that Bolton and Pompeo are trying to herd the president into a war. “Herding Trump down any path is an unsuccessful strategy. There are many witnesses to that.”

The president has said “many times” that he doesn’t want to use force, the official said.

[Read: We led successful negotiations with Iran. Trump’s approach isn’t working]

Ahead of a fuller briefing to Congress, though, the partisan split over Iran is glaring. And it speaks to a broader mistrust that Democrats like Schiff have toward the administration. Through his committee, Schiff has been one of Trump’s most aggressive investigators on the Russia inquiry. The debate over the Trump administration’s use of intelligence on Iran has also played out against the backdrop of the president’s own complicated relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies. He has repeatedly equivocated on their conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of helping his campaign.

Schiff told us he was concerned about news accounts that a State Department report on arms control was downplaying Russian violations in favor of a focus on Iran. (The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on this.) The congressman, along with two fellow Democrats, sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday citing “serious concerns over the abuse of classification and politicization of intelligence regarding Iran and other countries.”

“When you see conduct like that, it’s like waving a red flag,” Schiff told us. “It does make you question other things.”

President Trump Is Collecting Social-Media Grievances   8%

Today the White House launched a new tool to “share your story” of having your social-media account banned “if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you.”

Through a multipart questionnaire, the tool gathers personal data and then requests detailed information about “‘violations’ of user policies.” Four platforms are called out—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—and specific URLs and usernames are also requested. The form even asks for screenshots of communications between the companies and these users.

On the one hand, this could be a cynical attempt to grab a list of aggrieved social-media users for ad-targeting purposes. We’ve seen that kind of thing before from politicians of all stripes.

On the other, this is an unprecedented extralegal step into the internal affairs of a particular industry by a sitting president. It’s one thing to enforce a set of laws that impinge on a company’s business. It’s another to collect grievances outside any legal framework.

In any case, it’s another ratcheting up of President Donald Trump’s beef with the very social-media companies that enabled his rise, but whose founders don’t share his beliefs. Trump’s vaunted success on Facebook and Twitter might be taken as evidence that tech companies have done very little to police speech and/or actively promoted right-wing voices—common positions on the left. The rightists’ position is more complicated: They can easily point to the predominant left-leaning personal views of tech-company workers. But when Fox News dominates Facebook, how skewed could the platform really be?

Nonetheless, in a recent poll, 83 percent of self-identified Republicans thought the tech companies were biased against conservatives.

Since the tool is new, no one knows what will be sent to the White House, but it sure seems likely that this is a new headache-generating mechanism that the president can use in his ongoing campaign to, in the site’s words, “advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH” by putting pressure on the social-media platforms where the world communicates.

U.S. Treasury's Mnuchin: No discussion with White House on Trump's taxes  

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said he had not discussed releasing President Donald Trump's tax returns with the White House, and disagreed with an IRS memo that reportedly concluded he should release them to Congress.

U.S. House Democrats subpoena more Trump ex-aides, including Hicks  

A U.S. House committee chairman on Tuesday subpoenaed two more former White House aides, including Hope Hicks, just hours after former White House Counsel Donald McGahn was a no-show for testimony before the panel at President Donald Trump's request.

The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won't fool voters | Robert Reich   5%

If Democrats speak to the practical economic needs of Americans, they’ll have a chance to win against Trump in 2020

The award for this year’s Biggest Backhanded Compliment to Trump goes to White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who recently predicted a Trump victory in 2020 because “people will vote for somebody they don’t like if they think it’s good for them”.

Related: No holds Barred: Trump and his troops push for imperial presidency

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No holds Barred: Trump and his troops push for imperial presidency   3%

With his compliant attorney general, the man in the White House is taking aim at the constitutional balance of powers

William Barr, the attorney general, came face to face this week with Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, at the Capitol in Washington. Shaking her hand, Barr was said to have joked: “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”

Related: 'This is the endgame': how Trump has helped turn the tide against abortion

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Trump unveils new US immigration plan including English requirement video   22%

President unveiled new immigration strategy including favouring a 'merit'-based system over family ties, as well as making it a requirement that future immigrants learn English and pass a civics exam. Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he wanted to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12% to 57%, adding: 'We discriminate against genius. We discriminate against brilliance. We won't any more.' 

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Trump to visit Ireland on trip to Europe   12%

Donald Trump will make his first visit to Ireland as US president next month, the White House said on Tuesday.“President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have accepted the invitation

White House delays decision on tariffs on imported cars, parts   -2%

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump is delaying a decision for as long as six months on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and parts to allow for more time for trade

Trump directs ex-White House counsel to defy congressional subpoena   10%

The White House on Monday cited a legal opinion arguing McGahn would have immunity from testifying before Congress about his work as a close Trump adviser.

Steve Bannon says killing Huawei more important than trade deal with China   16%

Driving Huawei out of the United States and Europe is “10 times more important” than a trade deal with China, according to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.He also said he would dedicate all his time to shutting Chinese companies out of US capital markets.The remark by Bannon, a strong advocate of an “all-encompassing war” against China, came days after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively banning Huawei from the US market and cutting off its vital…

US-China battle for influence prompts Donald Trump to welcome leaders of South Pacific island nations to the White House   6%

US President Donald Trump for the first time hosted the leaders of three Pacific island nations at the White House on Tuesday, as part of Washington’s diplomatic push to counter China’s bid for influence in the region.The brief but symbolic meeting demonstrated US support at a time when Washington is pushing back against expanding Chinese influence in the Pacific.This was Trump’s first meeting with President Tommy Remengesau of Palau, President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands and newly…

US stocks fall as Huawei ban fallout hits tech shares  

US stocks slid on Monday as the White House’s restrictions on Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies weighed on the technology sector and raised concerns that the move would further inflame trade tensions between the United States and China.Since the White House added Huawei to a trade blacklist last week, several companies have suspended business with the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker.Alphabet Inc’s Google has moved to stop providing Huawei with access to its…

Palestinians say they were not consulted by any party on Bahrain peace conference that claims to be designed to boost its prosperity   8%

The Palestinian leadership said Monday it was not consulted over an economic conference next month in support of Washington’s Middle East peace plan and no party was entitled to negotiate on its behalf.The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama,…

30 years on from Tiananmen Square crackdown, why Beijing still thinks it got it right   -14%

In the first of a six-part series, Jun Mai looks at why the Communist Party refuses to reverse its condemnation of student-led pro-democracy protests that were subject to a bloody crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.When US president Ronald Reagan and Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang walked out of the White House arm in arm on January 10, 1984, a sense of optimism and hope swept across the Pacific.Nobody could have missed the symbolic and diplomatic importance of Zhao’s visit,…

Donald Trump denies split among top advisers over Iran policy   -6%

US President Donald Trump on Friday denied friction with his hawkish foreign policy advisers on Iran, specifically giving statements of support to White House national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Trump called “bullshit” a variety of news reports that he had chafed at his advisers and privately expressed concerns that they were trying to steer him into a war with Iran.US officials said on Thursday that Trump had told his advisers, including acting Defence…

George Conway slams Trump as 'most unfit and incompetent president in American history'  

As talk of impeachment heats up, husband of White House Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway did not mix words in his criticism of Trump

Trump peace plan economic component to be revealed in June in Bahrain   6%

The economic component will be released before the political part of the plan, which is still in discussions, White House says

Saudis say they don't want war, but will defend themselves  

Fears of armed conflict were already running high after the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran

Unsealed court filings reveal how Mueller quickly zeroed in on Michael Cohen   5%

Prosecutors took an early interest in the companies seeking to leverage Cohen’s access to President Trump and the White House, documents show.

White House proposes 'merit-based' system in immigration overhaul   25%

The White House is pushing for a border security bill that will modernize ports of entry to make sure all people, vehicles, and packages are scanned. The methodically planned bill was spearheaded by senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Trumps getting along with Russia probably should not mean further sanctions Kremlin   10%

If Washington wants to “get along with Moscow,” the White House will have to refrain from using the sanctions stick, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says after the US extended anti-Russia restrictions.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Iran supreme leader criticizes politicians amid US tensions   -1%

Iran will “under no circumstances” enter a war with the U.S., said an Iranian lawmaker after the White House earlier this month sent bombers to the region over an unexplained threat.

Trump expected to pick hard-liner Ken Cuccinelli for new post of immigration czar   -11%

President Trump is expected to appoint Ken Cuccinelli II, an immigration hard-liner who is one of the president’s strongest cheerleaders on cable news, to oversee administration efforts to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration, a White House official said Wednesday.

Cuccinelli, who enjoys...

Trump, angry over House investigations, blows up infrastructure meeting   -26%

President Trump abruptly blew up an infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders at the White House on Wednesday and declared that bipartisan cooperation was impossible while House committees are investigating him, underscoring the increasing combustibility between two warring branches of government.


Trump lashes out at Republican lawmaker who says he committed impeachable offenses   -8%

President Trump on Sunday blasted the lone congressional Republican who has suggested the president has committed impeachable offenses, as party members -- even sometime critics -- closed ranks around the White House, denying that the evidence in the special counsel’s report suggests Trump acted...

Trumps plaintive but welcome message to Iran: Can we talk?   -2%

You know we’re in trouble when President Trump looks like the adult in the White House.

Starting on May 5, Trump’s hawkish national security advisor, John Bolton, dramatically escalated pressure on Iran — announcing the deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, ordering up contingency...

Trump was irked at Pelosi's 'cover-up' remark before speech  

President Donald Trump said in impromptu remarks Wednesday that he told Democrats at the White House he couldn't work with them while they were pursuing investigations into him and his administration.

Trump plays hardball. Congress whiffs   -4%

We are in the middle of a monumental battle between two branches of government, and thus far the executive branch has mercilessly pummeled the purportedly co-equal legislative branch. Much of that is a function of motivation: The White House, fighting for its survival, is willing to bite, eye gouge and kidney punch, while Congress -- torn between pursuing justice and political expediency -- isn't even sure if it wants to fight at all.

Lawmakers emerge from Iran threat briefing split along partisan lines   7%

Debate over the threat posed by Iran took on a partisan hue after Trump administration officials briefed lawmakers Tuesday, with Democrats charging that the White House is blowing normal threat levels out of proportion and Republicans insisting that deterrence, not war, is the goal.

Angry Trump slams Democrats' investigations after cutting White House meeting short   30%

President Donald Trump held last-minute remarks in the Rose Garden Wednesday to lambast Democrats for their oversight efforts after an abbreviated meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House.

Schumer criticizes Trump for breakdown in infrastructure talks: 'He is looking for every excuse'  

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized President Donald Trump for abruptly ending a second round of infrastructure talks at the White House on Wednesday, saying that it's clear the President is not interested in tackling the issue and that Trump was "looking for every excuse" to get out of working on it.

First on CNN: Another top Trump aide to exit as legislative activity dries up  

President Donald Trump's point person on Capitol Hill, Shahira Knight, is leaving her post as multiple aides in the White House legislative affairs office and beyond eye the exits heading into a campaign season that will likely freeze legislative activity on both sides of the aisle.

Entertainment Software Association taps Pierre-Louis as new head  

Silicon Valley organizes on patent lobbying — How Connie Mack pushed for Orban’s White House visit

More states pass student loan servicer laws  

Education groups pan White House cut to Pell surplus — House Veterans Affairs Committee tackles school closures

Trump delays imposing tariffs on auto imports and parts   -23%

The White House said Friday that he is delaying for six months any decision to slap import taxes on foreign cars, a move that would hit Europe and Japan especially hard.


Reports: Trump putting 25% auto tariffs on hold for up to six months  

The White House is delaying for six months a decision on slapping tariffs on car and auto parts imports, reports say.


Two Senior Aides to Leave the White House  

Johnny DeStefano, a counselor to the president, and Shahira Knight, the White House legislative affairs director, announced their departures.

What To Know About The Sudden Talk Of War With Iran  

Lately, the White House has been talking as if conflict with Iran could soon erupt. Here's a look at how the talk has turned so bellicose and what the risks are.